NBA players band together on Christian apparel

By Jon Krawczynski

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 29 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Lin's picture was plastered everywhere — on consecutive Sports Illustrated covers, Time magazine, ESPN.com — and so were the wristbands.

"All these pictures across the world with him rocking our bands," Tolliver said. "Basically at that time, our website launched. It just was crazy after that."

The website — MyActiveFaith.com — crashed three times before they were able to get a dedicated server to handle the traffic and they sold 10,000 wristbands in the first two weeks.

"Nike, Adidas, Reebok, UnderArmour, they'll never make a faith-based product. They'll never really crossover and touch that," Smith said. "We felt that this was a niche and a market that we could create. That's what we plan on doing, almost being the Nike of the Christian sports apparel."

Smith's aim is to make the company much more than just another catchy wristband maker. Active Faith also has t-shirts and workout tops, shorts, hoodies and polo shirts, all geared to athletes, workout freaks and weekend warriors.

They also have a women's line — Fearfully and Wonderfully Made — and have high-profile athletes like Lin, Bulls star Derrick Rose and Timberwolves rookie Derrick Williams sporting the bands.

The line is sold at Houston's Lakewood Church, which has the largest congregation in the United States with more than 40,000 attendees every Sunday, and at nationwide retailer Family Christian Stores, in addition to the website.

"It's definitely been amazing and scary at the same time how fast it was blowing up," Smith said. "We had to reorder inventory two or three times pretty quickly. There's some stuff selling out in a day."

The Lin-like rise for Active Faith has led to some significant financial investment offers with one caveat — the company had to tone down the religious messages and take 'Jesus' off of the apparel to appeal to a wider demographic, Smith said.

"We're not willing to compromise the message," Smith said. "We're staying true to it and that's going to separate us."

The next frontier? Tebow.

Now that the quarterback has been traded to the Big Apple, Smith is hoping his buddy Lin can knock on his neighbor's door and make a pitch.

"We're looking at becoming one of the first companies owned solely by athletes," Tolliver said. "It's a very, very unique thing. We feel like we have a niche that nobody has even touched before and it has unlimited potential."

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